Disclaimer: Shirley Holmes and all affiliated characters are courtesy of Credo and Forefront. Everyone else belongs to me. Any questions?

The Case of the Black Lion--Chapter 1

by HA

As he parked his bike in front of the Quazar Cafe, Bo Sawchuk sighed in relief that in the near future, he'd be able to use a new set of wheels to get around town. As he headed towards the front door, he wiped his sweaty brow and took a few deep breaths. When he had gotten the call, he immediately dropped everything...literally. He reminded himself to apologize to his father for knocking over the trout, but he couldn't help but notice the smile he and his mother shared as he dashed away to get ready. Although he wasn't dressed in a fancy manner, he did make an effort to smooth out the wrinkles in his T-shirt before leaving home, and right before he stepped inside, he gave the bottom of his shirt a tug for good measure.

Once inside, he looked around and past the people working on computers or just surfing various web sites just for fun while enjoying a cup of coffee or something a little more filling. Then, he saw her near the front. She was sitting by herself at a booth and reading a paperback book while sipping from a cup. A blue beret with a white puff ball on it sat on her head, and he couldn't help but notice that it matched the color of her eyes. The rest of her dress proved to be colored red, yellow, and green, but Bo didn't really care about whether she was fashionable or not. As he looked at her, his stomach started to churn, and he instinctively moved his hands to his lower region when he started to feel too good. He admonished himself silently for even thinking of his best friend in that way, and he found his feet had chosen to plant themselves on the spot. Shakily, he eventually took a step forward while telling himself to stop thinking like that, especially since it all sounded ridiculous.

As Bo walked towards the booth, he thought about when he had first met Shirley Holmes. It had been while the two had been serving detention in the school office. He was there for fighting; she was there for being tardy to class. At first, he had assumed she was just another rich kid, but she surprised him when she told him information about himself from just looking over him. After she had helped prove his innocence in a case involving an insurance scam and arson, she became his best friend, and no matter the situation, he always stuck by her side, although he couldn't come with her to Rwanda to help search for her mother.

Suddenly, Shirley looked up from her book. Bo gulped as he beheld her face, which seemed to be composed of flawless ivory. There was no makeup on her face; Bo blushed when he thought she really didn't need any. Placing the book down, she rose from her seat. Bo willed himself to stop thinking anything inappropriate when his friend stood up. Although she was still slightly shorter than him, she was looking grown up in other ways. Almost halfway to the booth, Bo again told himself to calm down, and then, her lips opened.

"Bo, Blake."

Bo stopped and looked behind him. A boy about his height with brown hair was right behind him. "Hey, Bo," the boy said. "Shirley called you here too, huh?"

Bo hid the slowly forming fist behind his back. "Uh, yeah," he said, fighting the urge to take a swing at the other boy.

The two boys walked to the booth together. "You were able to make it," Shirley told them.

"Wasn't really doing much when you called," Blake Hewitt said as he slid into the seat in front of Shirley. "I was just doing some computer work," he explained as he slid more to his left.

Bo assessed his seating options, and he quickly sat next to Blake. "So, what's going on?" he asked as he sat in front of Shirley, who had retaken her place. "Got a new case for us to solve?"

"Not really," Shirley replied as she placed her book into the backpack that sat next to her. "Mom just wanted me to get out to hangout with her friends. Apparently, she didn't want me to spend Saturday night conducting chemistry experiments. She really had to shove me out the door." She paused to drink from her cup. "Besides, things have been quiet recently, especially after the incident." She raised an eyebrow at Blake.

"Yeah, that," Blake said.

"Still, it was nice of you to take me to a movie last week," Shirley said to him.

"No problem," Blake said quickly, his eyes not even meeting hers.

"It has been quiet here lately," Bo said.

"Too bad the rest of the world's been noisy," Blake said as he looked at the table. "Seen the news this past week?"

"I have," Shirley said. "The Blanchard case was rather interesting. The good doctor was found not guilty, but he and his wife were screaming hysterically about his guilt at a party being thrown to celebrate the verdict. I believe the wife was found to be babbling about being surrounded by dead children."

Bo blinked. "Tomie?"

"Who else?" Shirley said.

"That's not the only odd thing that's happened this week," Blake said, turning to Bo. "That guy who killed his girlfriend and her family was found dead in solitary. They said he was slashed to death, and it looked like an inside job."

"Intriguing," Shirley said, still looking at Blake.

"Indeed," Blake said, still looking at Bo.

Alicia Gianelli walked up to the booth with a notepad and pencil in hand. "Hey, guys," she said to Bo and Blake with a smile. "Anything you'd like to have?"

"Just a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a glass of milk," Blake said.

"Just water for me, thanks," Bo said. "Not really hungry at the moment."

Alicia jotted down their orders, and she was about to leave when she stopped moving. After what seemed like a hour rather than a few minutes, Bo rose from his seat and snapped his fingers in front of Alicia. "Hello?" he asked.

Alicia blinked and came out of her apparent trance. "Huh?" she said blankly as she turned her attention to Bo.

"We'd like our orders before the next Ice Age, thank you very much," Bo remarked.

"Oh, right!" Alicia almost dropped her order notepad, and her pencil did a jump before she caught it. "Sorry about that. I was just..."

"Checking out your surroundings," Shirley said, her blue eyes looking past Alicia and focusing on another table, or more specifically, the young dark-haired man with an apron covering his red long-sleeved shirt and faded blue jeans serving the customers there.

"Ah, and do you wish to have that with mayo?" the man asked as he jotted down the order given to him.

Alicia sighed as he nodded and left the table. "Isn't he dreamy?" she said with a sigh. "With all those muscles...he must really work out."

"Ahem," Bo said, clearing his throat.

"Okay, okay, I'm going," Alicia said, and she left the booth. As she did, she passed the man and smiled at him as he was heading back to get his orders. He waved a little to her, and they both left the area.

"Typical Alicia," Bo remarked with a grin.

"Um, Bo, can you move over a bit?" Blake asked. "I need to use the bathroom."

"Uh, sure." Bo slid out of his seat and stood as Blake got out.

"I'll be back in a moment," Blake said without looking at anyone, and he walked away.

As Bo returned to his seat, he noticed that Shirley was still watching Blake. "How odd," she said, propping her head with her hand and her elbow supporting her head. "He was like this last Saturday."

"Really?" Bo said. "Was the movie that bad?"

"No," Shirley answered, "and Blake was the perfect gentleman. However..." She rubbed her chin and looked upward. "He acted...oh, you could say...a little toned-down."

"You mean as cold as a fish?" Bo said.

"You could say that," Shirley said.

Bo looked at his friend, and although she didn't show it, he was sure she wasn't happy at the moment. He swore there was a sadness in those blue eyes of hers, and something in him burned with outrage. As Shirley took another sip from her cup, Bo rose from his seat. "I've got to go to the bathroom, too."

Shirley put her cup down quickly. "Bo, what are you...?"

"I'll be back," Bo said as he got up and left, leaving Shirley to stare incredulously after him.

* * * * *

Bo entered the men's bathroom and found Blake washing his hands at a sink. "What the hell is going on?" he asked, his eyes locked in a glare at the other boy.

Blake looked up from the sink. "Bo, what...?"

"Don't give me any crap," Bo said as he stood next to Blake. He fought the urge to grab Blake and slam him into the wall. "Just tell me why Shirley's so upset. Now."

"Shirley doesn't seem upset..." Blake began. Although he was standing his ground, he was leaning back defensively.

"I said don't give me that!" Bo said as he leaned towards Blake. "Just what is going on between you two?"

Blake sighed. "Bo, I saw you earlier."

"So?" Bo said.

"It's not fair for me to..."

"Blake..." Bo said, his teeth almost grinding together.

"Look," Blake said, motioning with his hands. "If you just tell her..."

"Tell her what?" Bo said, and then he understood. "Hey, you still think that I...?"

"Bo, what I did last week in the chem lab was a big mistake," Blake said. "I shouldn't have asked her out, especially with you there and what happened. I'm sorry that I..."

"Sorry?" Bo stepped forward, and Blake stayed where he was. "You're sorry?"

Blake straightened up. "Bo, just tell me to just think of her as a friend, and I will."

Bo blinked. "You're still thinking that? You're nuts, Blake."

"Bo, it's not fair to you that I..."

"Stuff it," Bo said, and he looked at the tiled floor. "We're just friends, and that's all we'll ever be, okay?"

"Bo..."

"Look, Blake," Bo began, "she's feeling miserable because you're not paying attention to her, and right now, I just care about her happiness, okay?" He paused as he suppressed every conflicting thought inside him, and then he pointed at Blake's chest. "You're going to go out there and make her happy, you got that?"

Blake met Bo's gaze, and his hands fished around in his pockets. "Maybe I should've stayed home..."

"Too late for that," Bo said, and he leaned even closer to the other boy. "Now, what's going on?"

Blake took a deep breath and sighed. "She kissed you, Bo."

Bo drew back and froze.

* * * * *

Shirley watched as Alicia placed the boys' orders onto the table, and after she thanked her, she watched as she tried to talk with her attractive co-worker. The young sleuth smiled to herself, but she switched to a frown when she looked towards where Bo had gone. She hoped Blake would come back without a black eye and some broken bones. Bo seemed so upset with him, and she really couldn't blame him since Blake did hurt her feelings a little. Although she was worried about Blake, she had to admire Bo's devotion to her.

When that thought crossed her mind, her cheeks heated up. Clearing her throat, she took a deep drink from her cup and admonished herself for that, but that led her to recall the kiss she gave to Bo on his cheek, and the feeling of his skin on her lips came back. *Ridiculous,* she thought as she shook her head. *I still can't believe I acted like that.* However, the good feeling lingered on her lips, and she became very interested in reading her book. She lifted it to her face and continued reading, hoping the text would keep her from thinking any more thoughts.

"Konbanwa!"

Shirley nearly fell back into her seat, and her book fell into her lap. As she reached for it, she found the source of the loud greeting, a young girl with long black hair and closed almond-shaped eyes. The girl smiled as Shirley replaced her book on the table.

"Gomen nasai," the girl said. "Sorry if I startled you."

Shirley watched as the girl opened her eyes and continued to wear her smile. Secretly, she was glad her eyes weren't yellow and her hair not green. A spiral medallion hung around her neck. Not that she was scared, of course. "No...no, everything's okay, Yume," she answered as she suppressed the shakiness in her voice.

Yume Miraino continued to smile as two other figures appeared behind her. "Hey, Shirley," a girl with brown hair tied in a ponytail greeted as she adjusted her goggle-like glasses. Behind her stood a blond young man, who was apparently trying to keep a small distance away from the others.

"Lucy," Shirley answered, and she looked towards the boy. "C.D."

"Hey," the boy said with a wave while looking away, apparently from Lucy.

Lucy Knight adjusted the scarf wrapped around her neck, and C.D. Morgan faced forward, although he was doing his best not to get too close to her. Although they looked normal, Shirley knew about their affiliation with the mysterious Strangers' Club, and she had seen Lucy's scarf in action before. Shirley's watchful eyes also noticed how his hands fidgeted, and concern crossed her mind if his nervousness could cause the Quazar Cafe to collapse.

"So," the young detective began, "what brings you three here?"

"Oh, we needed to go out and relax," Lucy said, and she leaned closer to Shirley and shielded her mouth from public view with her hand. "Arthur wanted to let you know that police raided an ENIGMA hideout in New York," she whispered.

"Really?" Shirley's eyebrow perked up with interest upon hearing the name of the Strangers' Club president and ENIGMA. "That hasn't been in the news."

"It just happened a while ago," Lucy whispered back. "Arthur bets there'll be a news bulletin on every channel in the world."

"How does Arthur know about...?"

"He has his ways," Lucy said.

"Ah." Shirley looked at Yume. "I assume you're enjoying your stay in Redington?"

"I am," Yume said cheerfully. "It's really nice here."

"I assume you've been busy," Shirley said. "Who's next after Dr. Blanchard?"

Yume looked upward and rubbed her chin. "I think there's this gang leader who had his cousin hire someone to kill a witness in his murder trial..."

Shirley noticed a yellow glint in Yume's eyes, and she turned to Lucy. "How did you...?"

"Your mom told me on the phone," Lucy said.

"I see," Shirley said. "You told her you were one of my friends."

Lucy smiled. "You're good."

"Why come with C.D. and Yume?" Shirley asked.

"Yume wanted to see you again," Lucy said. "As for C.D...." She looked at the floor and shifted her foot left and right. Shirley noticed the Stranger's red cheeks, and when she looked at C.D., she saw the same shade of red on his face.

"Damian waiting outside?" Shirley asked. Yume began to blush.

At that point, the door flew open.

* * * * *

Bo eyed Blake uneasily, and his hands hung at his sides. "What...what did you say?"

Blake got closer to Bo. "She did. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"Yeah," Bo said, recovering quickly. "She just survived a deadly card game with some magically powered vigilante, and she lost it there for a moment. Nothing more."

"Bo..."

Bo looked away from the other boy. "Save it, Blake. She likes you, not me. End of story." His eyes focused on Blake. "Now, you're going to go in there to explain yourself, and..."

"Get down!"

The loud shout from outside made Bo and Blake freeze in their tracks, and they could only look towards the door as two shots rang out. Soon, shrieks and screams sounded off as a series of rapid footsteps faded away.